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TRAVEL DIARY: JAMAICA

Happy Monday! I'm so excited to share my travel diary from our trip to GoldenEye resort in Oracabessa, Jamaica. My fiancé surprised me with the trip a few weeks ago and proposed! I'm so excited to share more of our story and the proposal with you all. When we were at the airport coming back, I spilled water into the back of my MacBook (too much excitement?) and had to wait to get this post together. I was so disappointed because I was hype about our trip and wanted to share. I usually like to share where to stay, what to eat and what to do in the cities we travel to. Since we stayed at GoldenEye, this will be more of a review/breakdown of what we did when we were there and some tips if you decide to book GoldenEye. 

STAY

There are a variety of room options when choosing GoldenEye. There are beach villas, lagoon cottages and beach huts. We stayed in the one bedroom tall beach hut. I was obsessed with our room because our veranda had the most amazing view. It was so peaceful and felt secluded even though we were next to other huts. It was the perfect place to sit and watch the sunrise with a cup of tea. I also loved how the huts are located in the center of the resort. You're close to all the activities, beaches and restaurants. The beach villas and lagoon cottages are older and situated closer to the entrance of the resort. 

EAT

I received a lot of questions about the food at GoldenEye. I will preface this by saying I have become super anti all-inclusive resorts. Although I do think it's cost efficient, I am a big foodie and am willing to pay for all my meals if that means having delicious food. Also, I am really big on eating local, traditional food which I think all-inclusive resorts sometimes lack. I'm not trying to eat Japanese food in Jamaica, for example. With that being said, we try and make sure we budget to splurge on food when we travel.

Bizot Bar: We ate breakfast a couple mornings at Bizot Bar. We were able to have traditional Jamaican offerings like salt fish and ackee. Breakfast was delicious and included with your stay. It was great to be able to have a large breakfast without spending a ton of money since our dinners were pretty pricey. We ordered lunch here as well because we could order from the pool. They also hosted a bbq on our last night and it was really expensive but unlimited food so it was worth the cost. They had a bunch of chef attended food stations and it was the perfect dinner for our last night. I also noticed that they had some vegan and vegetarian options which was unexpected! Order: Jamaican curry, steamed callaloo, snapper filet and pineapple with sorbet and rum syrup. 

The Gazebo: The Gazebo was the newest dining addition to the resort. It's a tree-house style building and overlooked Low Cay Beach and the Lagoon. It was known as the nicest restaurants at the resort so we ate dinner there to celebrate our engagement. It was definitely the most expensive meal of our trip. Order: grilled scallops, lion fish (if it's available) and flourless chocolate torte.  

Bamboo Bar:  On our last day, we ventured over to Button Beach to grab lunch and lay out. There's also a bar here so you can grab a drink or infused water. Honestly, I could order jerk chicken for every meal but I tried to actually eat other food. ahaha. By this point I knew I was going to get some jerk chicken and it was so good. Order: jerk chicken, sweet potato and plantains.

Shabeen: When we first arrived at GoldenEye, our guide took us to Shabeen to try the "GoldenEye" which is the resort's signature drink. Rather simple, it's a combination of frozen pineapple juice and Blackwell Rum. It was delicious. The drink is also offered at some other hotels in Jamaica but GoldenEye's version is the best. They also had a cocktail party with complimentary drinks and appetizers early Friday evening. 

Wherever your driver wants to takes you: We had the most amazing driver pick us up from the airport. He was able to share some history with us on our drive and was willing to stop any place we needed to (I figured this out because I forgot our camera battery charger. Fail.) He also took us to his favorite local place to stop and get jerk chicken and jerk pork along our route. He even stopped and bought my fiancé a Dragon Stout once he knew he'd never had one. That was the best meal of our entire trip to be honest and it was great to have an outing somewhere local. 

DO

"Wata Sports": There are a ton of activities at GoldenEye, especially "Wata Sports." I love any activity that has to do with water. They have complimentary paddle boards, kayaks, etc. With the beaches and lagoon, there are a ton of places to get your fill of water sports. 

Glass Eye:  Every morning at 9:00am, the resort takes out "Glass Eye" (its glass bottom boat) for a tour around Oracabessa. We decided to take a tour one day and it was great to learn more about Oracabessa. We also learned more about new additions to the island like Usain Bolt's plans to build villas nearby. 

Snorkeler's Cove: A short distance from our hut, there was a cove where you could grab a snorkel and venture out. We learned the night before that the resort has a coral nursery close to the entrance of the cove. We swam out and were able to see the most amazing coral I've ever seen. The coral was so tall our knees would sometimes bump against it when we were swimming! We even thought about going back the next day. We loved that you could just walk up and grab whatever equipment you wanted and swim out. 

FieldSpa: I'm all about a spa day. One thing I didn't get time to do is visit the spa. We were able to see the cottage at the lagoon where the spa usually is. It's currently being renovated so the spa is temporarily in another location. It's definitely on my list for our next visit. 

Firefly: On the way to the resort, our driver told us that we should make a reservation to visit Firefly. Little did I know, my fiancé had already worked with the staff to schedule a tour and picnic as part of his proposal. The tour was so cool. I love getting to learn a bit of history every time I visit somewhere new. Much of the furniture and decor is from when Noel Coward lived there and has been preserved for years. Even the place settings on the table are the same! The grounds are seriously gorgeous. I really cannot describe the view and the pictures and video we have don't do it justice. Seriously, add a tour to your list if you plan to visit GoldenEye. 

TIPS

  1. When my fiancé booked our room, he said that the site mentioned there was no AC in the rooms. He hesitated about booking our stay because he thought we would be miserable without. To our surprise, we walked in and saw a large AC unit in our room! We turned it on the lowest setting and also had our fan on. One night it was so cold in our room, I had to wake up and turn the fan off. I would reach out to GoldenEye before booking to confirm if AC is in the room. 
  2. Eat breakfast at the resort because (1) it's good and (2) it's complimentary. 
  3. Request Michael aka "Pops" as your driver. He was so awesome. As a native of Jamaica, he knew so much about the area and the history. He would ask us questions about what we observed on our drive which made the 1.5 hour drive seem so short. He also was willing to stop anywhere we needed to stop. If you need medicine, batteries, etc. he will know where to go. Lastly, he took us to the most amazing local spot to grab jerk, rice and beans and local beer. 
  4. The lifeguards are everything. Seriously, even though they're lifeguards, they go far beyond. One of the lifeguards, Dave, took our spur-of-the-moment engagement announcement pictures and did an amazing job. I am super annoying when it comes to pictures and he was willing to walk around the entire resort if need be to get the perfect shot. So many of the staff were so helpful with everything we needed. 
  5. Bring cash to tip. For all meals, the resort preferred we billed to our room. However, we had so many staff who were just amazing, we found ourselves tipping people a lot. Drivers, lifeguards, waitstaff, etc. We were so happy that we could tip people to show our appreciation. 
  6. Driving always takes longer. Between the road conditions and the traffic, be prepared to take longer than you think on every drive. We left 4 hours early for the airport when we were leaving and we still got to the airport right before it was time to board our plane. Traffic is no joke. We also didn't want to force our driver to speed because it's easy to get a speeding ticket on our route. Just make sure you allot enough time for travel. 
  7. The resort is really secluded. When we first arrived I was like, where are all the people? Aside from cocktail hours and bbq's the resort held, we rarely saw other people. At any given time, we may have been at the beach with only one other couple. When we went snorkeling and on the glass bottom boat, it was just us. We loved that it felt like we had the resort all to ourselves. If you are someone who likes to be around a ton of people, this is not the resort for you. lol 
  8. I received a question from someone on Instagram about how I liked the food. I actually really enjoyed the food. What I will say is that my favorite meals of the trip were our dinners at The Gazebo and the BBQ at Bizot which were our most expensive meals. I think that with breakfast and all the water activities being complimentary, the cost ends up balancing out. Once I saw the question on Instagram, I thought about the food compared to our trip to Tulum last year. When my fiancé and I discussed it, he mentioned that our stay (meals included) at GoldenEye was more expensive than our stay in Tulum (meals included) and we both really enjoyed the food in Tulum a lot more. In Tulum, we only ate lunch at our resort and left for all other meals. Tulum has become more popular for food in recent years so it's not surprising that the food was better. I really had no desire to leave GoldenEye to get food. We discussed which place we would want to visit again and we both said GoldenEye with no hesitation. 

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